A seed is a small plant that contains food and all the instructions needed to sprout into a new plant. It grows roots and then grows into a larger plant as it makes its own food from the nutrients in the soil.
A seed has a protective coating that helps it survive the cold and other elements. It can also be soaked in water to soften the coat and speed up germination.
They Carry Food
Seeds carry the food that helps a new plant begin to grow. This food store is found in the endosperm of seeds or in cotyledons in seeds without endosperm.
Most seeds have a protective covering called the seed coat that encloses and protects them as they grow and mature. The seed coat consists of a membranous layer that is fused to the fruit wall of plants and forms the seed hull.
The seed coat also provides protection from water and other environmental hazards. Some seeds have wings, feathery parts, or parachute-like parts that help them float away from the parent plant in wind instead of dropping to the ground below it.
Other seeds (with sticky hairs, bristles, hooks, or barbs) stick to the fur of animals and people and are transported far away from the parent plant. Birds and other animals eat the fruits of some plants and pass along the seeds as they are digested.
They Are a Source of Food for Animals
Seeds are a source of food for many animals, as well as humans. They are an important part of a healthy diet, and can offer bone-strengthening calcium, brain-boosting magnesium and cell-repairing phosphorus.
They contain a lot of nutrients, including protein, fiber and essential fats, which are important for a variety of health conditions. Some seeds even contain antioxidants, which can protect cells against disease and infection.
Throughout the world, plants spread their seeds in lots of different ways to find new homes. They use wind and animals to help them spread their seeds.
Some seeds travel a long way from the parent plant. Others fall to the ground by gravity, like an acorn from an oak tree.
Some seeds are light and can fly, shaped like wings or gliders. Some have parachutes that slow them down as they fall from the mother plant, like these dandelion seeds in this drawing.
They Are a Source of Food for People
Seeds are the reproductive body of types of plants known as ‘angiosperms’ (flowering plants) and ‘gymnosperms’ (conifers, cycads). They have three main parts: the embryo, the cotyledon, and the seed coat.
Most of the calories we consume come from seeds, especially from cereals and legumes. They also provide most cooking oils, many beverages and spices and some important food additives such as gluten in wheat.
They are the source of proteins and other essential nutrients for human and animal nutrition. They can be eaten directly or used to manufacture flour, starch, oil, and alcohol.
Seeds are a central part of the global agricultural landscape and a major staple of many human diets. Some of the most commonly cultivated crops are rice, wheat, maize and potatoes.
They Are a Source of Energy
Plant seeds are a source of energy for the young plants inside. They contain carbohydrates, proteins and fats that the embryo needs to grow into a full-fledged plant.
Seeds are also an important source of food for humans. The seeds of cereals such as wheat, barley, rye and corn provide about one-fourth of the energy needed by people in the United States.
They are a major source of nutrient-dense foods that have been part of our diets since ancient times. They are also essential in providing the nutrients for many other animals, including birds, mice and squirrels.
As Cecilia Zumajo explained in her paper, seed plants are a major component of the world’s ecosystems. They are the foundation of our modern-day diets, and they provide medicine, fuel, paper, fibers, dyes and wood.